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Interview with Slim Bouricha of LYNX Yachts

Ownership New-Build

Lynx Yachts is a new Dutch shipyard, set up by Slim Bouricha. The yard delivered two yachts to date, the 33.9 metre Heliad II, and the 24 metre Yacht-X-Tender support vessel YXT One. We sat down with this experienced owner, to discuss the idea behind setting up a new yard.

What is your history in yachting?

I’ve been on boats since I was a little kid. I’m very much a yacht enthusiast, and every summer we cruise at least two or three weeks with my wife and boys. I’ve always been interested in boats, and I’ve built boats myself. Actually, I even at one point operated a shipyard for commercial vessels, not yachts. It is not my prime business, but really a passion.

Did you own other yachts before owning Heliad II and the YXT One?

Yes, I had a Ferretti, and before that I actually owned a very interesting yacht. It was a fully custom design and built in Italy, an old commuter from the 1920s that we designed from scratch and built. That was a 57 footer, and we had a lot of fun designing and building it. That was about eight years ago.

How did project Heliad start?

The idea of building Heliad was to show the market and the yacht building industry that there is a different way to approaching the yacht building process. We really wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to fully integrate the yacht design, the interior design and the building under one roof. We felt that owners often go in the wrong direction because they first consult with a design company that develops the specification and preliminary design, and then they go out for bids to different shipyards. We felt that if the process could be integrated, clients will be getting better advice, and this is why we decided to launch LYNX Yachts and built the Heliad.

How did you meet Diana Yacht Design?

I’ve been fond of some of the yachts they have designed, specifically Pamela V. So I contacted Diana Yacht Design. What I liked about them is that they are a bunch of very energetic, dynamic engineers, who are really there to listen to the client demands. They’re not afraid of working hard and stretching the extra hours to make sure they meet the clients requirements. They immediately understood the philosophy of LYNX Yachts and they have proved to be an outstanding partner.

Before you started doing the Heliad project yourself, did you first go to a lot of shipyards to have a look?

We visited many shipyards, and I just didn’t like the approach shipyards have. We have quickly concluded that there was room for LYNX Yachts with a new philosophy and process.

How did the idea start for the Yacht-X-Tender?

The Yacht-X-Tender is actually an idea that has been on my mind for many years. I’ve always thought that owners of yachts from 40 meters to 60 meters were very much limited in terms of tender carrying capacity, as well as other items. I felt there was a need there for yacht support vessels. if you look at the yacht support vessel market, you have on the high end Sea Axe that caters to much larger yachts, then you have people who bought old commercial vessels, but they don’t look right. These look awkward and there’s no point in having a beautiful yacht and sitting next to it an awkward looking vessel.

We thought there was a need for this specific size. The 24 metre length was carefully selected so that it falls under CE rules and so that the vessel is economical to acquire and operate. The acquisition and operating cost of a Yacht-X-Tender is totally within the reach of budgets of yachts from 40 to 60 meters.

How has the first boat been received by the market?

Thus far, the market response has been Amazing. The fact that it sold before we hit the first yacht show is actually a good indication of that. We saw that we were the attraction everywhere we went. People loved the lines, the reverse bow and the superstructure.

We are already negotiating with two possible clients for two new ones, and we are really getting lots of enquiries. We love the interactions we have with yacht owners who come with their requirements as well as their enriching ideas.

So now you have the LYNX Yachts brand, you have completed Heliad, and you have completed YXT 01. Do you plan to own your facility in a near future?

Owning a facility as opposed to renting is really an economical decision. At this early stage of the life of our company, if you own a permanent facility with permanent members and you’re not achieving the sales figures that should go with it, it would inevitably reflect upon your sale price, to the detriment of the interests of the clients. The renting of a facility makes more sense economically at the beginning of the life of a shipyard.

Was it always your intention to have your facility in Holland?

Yes, because there should be never be any compromise in quality. Holland and Germany remain the countries where greater quality in Yacht building can be achieved. LYNX Yachts has developed a fantastic network in Holland of quality people, sub-contractors and suppliers.

Who is now the face of the company? Will you appoint a director?

We will appoint a sales manager in 2015. I am myself going to be more involved in the company, as a business development and sales manager. It’s a company that was born out of passion, so I have to communicate this passion to anyone involved in LYNX Yachts and to our potential customers.

So the biggest selling point for you is a Dutch built, good quality boat at a competitive price?

A Dutch build of good quality, and a competitive price. Sure, we’re in a competitive world, but we’ll never engage in a price war. Quality is really our priority, as well as understanding and meeting customers’ requirements.

This one is now sold. Will you start another?

We are considering starting the production of Hull #2 so that we can cut down delivery of a Yacht-X-Tender down to 12 months (from 18 months). This should be of interest to potential customers.

Will you build on speculation?

We might elect to do that because we also have an idea of what some of the yacht owners have told us, but we think the next one will be sold fairly quickly.

What are your plans with Heliad? Do you plan to keep her as a private boat?

Well the Heliad was really built as a proof of concept. It was a show piece for people to see our know-how and quality standards. She has been very well appreciated by the market, and we already have many offers on her.

Do you want to focus LYNX Yachts more on the yacht support vessels, or more luxury yachts like Heliad?

The Yacht-X-Tender is a product and the development strategy is product driven. Like with all products different versions can be developed to adapt to market demands. With the immediate success, we saw we really hit an existing demand. We have also seen for the Yacht-X-Tender a market for day boat versions, utilitarian versions, etc. This is keeping our drawing board very busy!

We also keep in mind that there is a great market in the United States for the Yacht-X-Tender. The southern Florida yachting community goes to the Bahamas on weekends, where there is shallow water. The yacht extended has a 4.5’ draft, so it can take you anywhere in the Bahamas. The Yacht-X-Tender definitely fits the needs of an American family going there on a weekend, using the Yacht-X-Tender as a day boat with accommodation, loading on it a fishing boat for deep sea fishing, a RIB, wave runners, and all the toys they want. It’s a perfect weekend boat for them.

The Luxury yachts building division development will have a different approach. It is really a service focused division that will offer tailor made yachts to discerning customers on a case by case basis.

Would you also want to start up larger projects?

Larger custom projects would fall in the Custom Yacht Building division of LYNX Yachts.

We have already developed the design of a 55 metre for an American client. It’s a long negotiation process. What is specific about this 55 metre is it has a lot of outdoor entertainment space and an owner deck that can be completely isolated from the rest of the Yacht when needed. This customer feels that a lot of time is spent outdoor, and we focused on the outdoor space. It’s a breathtaking 55 metre yacht with phenomenal volumes.

So you really want to focus on the custom yachts instead of building lines of boat? More client driven?

This is true for our Custom Yacht Building division. We really want to be close to our customers, get a clear idea of their yachting lifestyle, and make the understanding of the specifications we develop accessible to them. We want to develop designs and specifications that really correspond to only all what they need and want. The reason for which I am saying ‘’only’’ is that we do have the objective to steer our clients away from specifications that would have a negative impact on investment or operating budgets or generate maintenance headaches.

Where do you see the company in five years time?

We think the Yacht-X-Tender is going to be a successful product, and inevitably we will probably have to have our own facility to be able to produce three, four, five of them simultaneously. As for the custom yachts division, since it is a case by case basis with different yacht sizes, the building facility requirements will vary with projects. We feel it is more economical to rent a facility for every project, and this is all to the benefit of our customers.

By Merijn de Waard and Maarten Janssen

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